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Archive for November, 2012

Kenya’s vulnerabilities

26 Nov

Of late we mostly hear good news about the Kenyan economy. With the macroeconomic performance of the economy having improved significantly in the last year, it is not difficult to figure out why the country has become a place for opportunity not only for major investors but also for the ordinary person whose goal, when leaving the country for the Diaspora was just to merely support their families by sending money to pay bills and cover daily expenses.  It has become an opportunity for the working class community in the Diaspora to invest in property and small businesses, some of which have grown significantly riding on the wave of this fast expanding economy.

If we are to be objective however, there are challenges. Challenges that should not be ignored lest this promising outlook be just but a dream we never see coming to fruition.

First, Kenya will need to reduce its high reliance on agricultural outputs to limit its vulnerability to climate hazards by diversifying the economy. Second, Kenya may be vulnerable to another political shock as it faces 2012 elections.

I think it helps to be aware of any potential pitfalls in any economy, not simply because we have emotional ties to the country and it is home to so many, but  also because when we send money to Kenya on a regularly for whatever reason, we are making an investment which needs to be guarded, protected and nourished.  So this is not a bash at the economy, just constructive criticism for a country we all love so dearly.

 
 

Kenya ranked in Africa’s top 17

23 Nov

The country has excellent connectivity to major world-wide hubs, a deep pool of educated and skilled manpower, a huge potential for exploration and exploitation, and to top it up, it has the most developed stock market in the Eastern and Central African region

These factors among others are why Kenya has been ranked as one of the top 17 most attractive countries in Africa for investment over the next five years. This was published by Earnest & Young in its 2011 Africa attractiveness survey. They survey identified a selection of countries with good potential for good investment over the next five years and Kenya was ranked as one of the top 17.

According to the survey, Africa has become critical in sustaining the growth of emerging market investors. As it becomes more attractive, the growth prospects for the continent have become more attractive with capital investment set to grow to about US$150b in 2015.

According to this research, doing business in Africa is not a “should I” question but rather a “how should I” question for anyone who is serious about making a sustainable and meaningful investment. It is simply a matter of looking at the various opportunities that the continent provides especially by means of its natural resources advantage, and the availability of labour at reasonable costs.

 
 

The Kenyan agricultural sector

20 Nov

Although only 15% of Kenya’s total land area has sufficient fertility and rainfall to be farmed, the agricultural sector continues to dominate the economy. It is the second largest contributor to Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP), after the service sector.
Kenya is Africa’s leading tea producer, with black tea being the leading foreign exchange earner. Another leading foreign exchange earner in the agricultural sector is coffee which is the third leading earner.
In recent years Kenyan Horticulture has become increasingly prominent ranking in as the third leading agricultural export. The success of the horticulture industry in Kenya has created a variety of investment opportunities for investment opportunities some of which include

  • Fruit processing
  • Seed production and plant propagation
  • Provision of both sea and airfreight

Given its access to the regional market, strategic location, and good standard of living for foreign investors, Kenya makes a perfect investment hub…

 
 

Online Money Transfers: The Basics

17 Nov

The main reasons to send money to Kenya via an online money transfer service are undeniable: Online money transfer is fast, convenient and safe.

Numerous safety measures are in place to ensure that your money goes exactly where it needs to go. Multiple layers of data encryption are used for online money transfers. That way, if by chance the data is stolen or hacked en route to the recipient, it’s all coded multiple times so that it’s illogical, illegible jibber-jabber. It’s money on a screen to you, but once you hit send on a secure money transfer Web site, it goes out into the Internet as coded data, and once it’s received by the recipient’s bank or service, it’s decoded and deposited as currency.

All online banking transactions, including online money transfer services, are processed by the Automated Clearing House (ACH), an independent agency that offers secure financial data transmission. The various services offer other levels of protection to guarantee your money will be sent and your bank accounts won’t be compromised.

OK, so it’s safe for you, and for the person that needs money.

 
 

Kenyans embracing mobile internet

14 Nov

Mobile phones!

To some they are just a means of communication; to others mobile phones are a symbol of status and yet to some they are a tool for social and financial inclusion. They have become a the crucial link between Kenyans in the Diaspora wanting to send money to Kenya

Kenyans are among Africa’s top users of the internet on their mobile phones. According to a new Pew Global Attitudes study, cell phone ownership in Kenya has increased from 9% in 2002 to 65% in 2010.

Believe it or not, phones in developing world are becoming the centre of human survival in many ways than people could have imagined ten years ago. Think remittances, social networking (very important!), email usage and bridging the educational gap… the opportunities that mobile phones have provided are very diverse and crucial in allowing equal access and opportunities for Kenyans.

 
 

Remittance Trends

10 Nov

Kenyan remittances continue to increase


Being the beginning of another month, I thought it necessary to look at the recent remittance trends.

According to the Central Bank, remittances to Kenya jumped by 44 percent in July from the same month a year ago to $72.8 million, up from $71.9 million in June, the central bank said on Wednesday.

Remittances are the fourth-largest source of foreign exchange in east Africa’s biggest economy after revenue from tea, horticulture and tourism.

The July figure topped that of June, which was already a five-year high for monthly remittances.

Kenyans sent home a total of $479.3 million in the first seven months of the year, compared with $350.9 million in the same period in 2010, the bank said in a statement.

Last year they sent home a record $641.9 million, a 5 percent increase from the previous year.

According to the Central bank of Kenya, the increase in remittances in 2011 continued to reflect economic recovery in source markets, and a favourable domestic economic environment

The bank said that, like in the previous month, the main source of money was from North America and Europe.

Typically, Kenyans living abroad send money home to help their families and for investment in various sectors, including real estate.

 
 

Kenya places itself as one of the top investment options in East Africa

07 Nov

The property market in Kenya has seen massive opportunity, mainly along the Indian Ocean
coastline within the many game reserves Kenya is so famous for.

In addition to being the business hub of East Africa, Kenya is blessed with natural beauty, incredible
scenery and abundance of rare and amazing wildlife. Its tourism sector has continued to flourish and
the country even attracted property investment into the game reserves in the form of commercial
lodges for tourism and also along the Indian Ocean coastal region in the form of a few second home
and retirement home developments as well as some holiday resorts and commercial ventures as
well.

The increasing number of visitors to Kenya has inevitably boosted the more conservative business
confidence in the country and gradually the economic fortunes of Kenya are beginning to see a
sustained positive shift.

So weather you are making a long term residential or commercial property investment, Kenya is
definitely a significant choice thanks to the growing tourism sector and the solid growth in their
underlying investment technology.

 
 

My £ in perspective

05 Nov

Questions abound as to whether or not Kenyans in the Diaspora are contributing to the
country’s economic, social and political development.

I think once in a while it is worth looking at what impact our hard earned cash has, not only on our families but also to our economy.
According to a World Bank study done in 2010, remittances sent to Kenya reached a total
of $1.9 billion. This is equivalent to 20 per cent of Kenya’s annual budget, making it a big
contributor to development.

Among African countries, Kenya has the third highest level of remittances after Nigeria and
Sudan.

At independence, there were only a few hundred Kenyans living abroad, mainly as students.
However, the number has grown tremendously over the decades to more than 2.5 million.

They live mainly in North America, Europe, Asia, southern Africa and the neighbouring EAC
states.

The largest Kenyan community abroad is found in the USA and Canada, occupying
almost every profession and jobs as engineers, businesspeople, professors, doctors, nurses,
technicians, factory workers, baby-sitters, and watchmen.

It is estimated that about one million Kenyans live in North America alone.

Kenyan students and professionals have also increasingly sought greener pastures in
Australia due to its liberalised immigration policy, and diminishing opportunities at home.

About 50 per cent of those emigrants possess at least undergraduate degrees, making their
career placement promising. The earnings of Kenyans abroad go chiefly to supporting family
members to meet their basic needs.

On a different level, Kenyans abroad have been readily involved in the socio-political and
economic discourse at home.

For instance, during the 2007 general elections, Kenyans raised funds and sent money to
Kenya to support presidential and parliamentary candidates they presumed were predisposed
to creating an enabling political culture that would guarantee good governance and economic
advancement.

With the development in information and communication technology, some Kenyans have
followed keenly what is going on at home, and contributed substantively to discourse via
blogs and in newspapers.

The Diaspora also successfully fought for dual-citizenship to be included in the new
Constitution.

The point I am really trying to make in a roundabout way is that Kenya’s community abroad
is an important constituency which cannot, and should not, be ignored by anyone.